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Are Financial Asset Classes like a Box of Valentine Chocolates in 2019?

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On Valentine’s Day Diversification

By Rick Kahler MS CFP® ChFC CCIM  www.KahlerFinancial.com

Rick Kahler CFPWith displays of Valentine candy in every store, February is the perfect time to talk about chocolate. A creative financial planner might even steal Forrest Gump’s analogy and say, “Diversification is like a box of chocolates.”

Except that it isn’t.

True, a box of chocolates might have a lot of variety. Cream centers. Caramels. Nougats. Nuts. Dark chocolate. Milk chocolate. Truffles. Yet it’s all still chocolate.

Retirement Savings

Buying that box would be like investing your retirement savings in a variety of US stocks. Even if you had a dozen different companies, they would all be the same basic category of investment, or asset class.

For example, suppose you gave your true love a slightly more diversified Valentine gift made up of chocolates, Girl Scout cookies, baklava, and apple pie. That would compare to investing in different types of stocks like US, international, or emerging markets. But, everything would still be dessert.

Wiser Physician-Investors

You would be a wiser doctor-investor if you took your true love out for dinner and had a meat course, a salad, vegetables, bread, dessert, and wine. Now you’d start to see real diversification.

In addition to US, international, and emerging market stocks (all dessert), you might have some other asset classes like US and international bonds (meat), real estate (bread), cash (salad), commodities (veggies), and absolute return strategies (wine).

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box

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Long Term Growth Generator

This kind of asset class diversification is the best investment strategy for long-term growth. My preference is eight or nine different classes. For many clients, I recommend a mix of US and international stocks and bonds, real estate investment trusts, a commodities index fund, market neutral funds like merger arbitrage and managed futures, junk bonds, and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS).

Market Fluctuations

Fluctuations in the market will tend to affect the various securities within a given asset class in the same way. Most US stocks, for example, would generally move up or down at the same times. So, owning shares of several different stocks wouldn’t protect you against changes in the market. When a portfolio is well-diversified, the volatility is reduced even during times when the markets are moving strongly up or down.

When I talk about investing in a variety of asset classes, I don’t mean owning stocks, real estate, gold, or other assets directly. For individual investors, mutual funds are a much better choice. Occasionally, someone will ask me, “But why should I have everything in mutual funds? That isn’t diversified, is it?”

Mutual Funds

Mutual funds are not an asset class. A mutual fund isn’t like a type of food; it’s like the plate you put the food on. A single plate might hold one food item or servings from several different food groups. More specifically, mutual funds are pools of money invested by managers. One fund might invest in real estate investment trusts (REITS). Another might have international stocks chosen for their high returns. Still others invest in a diversified mix of asset classes. The mutual fund is just the container that holds the investments.

heart[Courtesy GE Healthcare]

Annuities

Annuities and IRAs aren’t asset classes, either, but are also examples of different types of containers that hold investments. If you use your IRA to purchase an annuity, all you’re doing is stacking one plate on top of another. It doesn’t give you another asset class, it just costs you more for the second plate.

Assessment

Having a box of chocolates for dinner might seem more appealing in the short term than eating a balanced meal. Investing in the “get-rich-now” flavor of the month might seem tempting, too. Yet in the long run, asset class diversification is the best way to make sure you have a healthy investment diet.

***

February 14th, 2019

***

Conclusion

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Should a diversified investment portfolio produce the same return as US stocks?

 On unrealistic expectations

By Rick Kahler CFP®

I have a complaint. The pot pie at one of my favorite restaurants doesn’t taste like a pot roast. I keep complaining, but nothing changes. I am thinking I may need to find a new restaurant because their cooking skills are just not living up to my expectations.

Or maybe I need to adjust my expectations. How can I expect a pot pie—a savory pastry with a mixture of potatoes, vegetables, and beef chunks—to taste like a beef pot roast? Even though beef is an ingredient in a pot pie, no reasonable diner would expect the two meals to taste the same.

Investing

But, that same reasonable diner might be perfectly comfortable expecting that their diversified investment portfolio should produce the same return as US stocks. This is just as unrealistic as it is to expect pot pie and pot roast to produce the same taste.

A diversified portfolio has a variety of investments in it, just as a pot pie has a variety of ingredients in it. A pot pie provides a complete meal with a nice balance of grain, veggies, and protein with a tasty blend of spices. A pot roast provides just one component of a balanced meal, a heavy dose of protein.

Likewise, a diversified portfolio is a meal in itself. A particular recipe that I like has the equivalent of a flour crust made of high quality bonds, high yield bonds, and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities. Stuffed inside is a delicious blend of real estate investment trusts, international stocks, US stocks, emerging market stocks, commodities, all flavored with managed futures, a long/short fund, and a put/write investment strategy.

The flavor of the diversified portfolio is completely different from an investment of just US stocks. Yet investors regularly try to compare the two.

EXAMPLE:

A few months ago, a reader wanted to know why her small account with a well-known brokerage house was doing three times better than her IRA managed by a fee-only advisor. She was thinking she should put all her IRA money with the brokerage firm.

Following up revealed the ingredients in her IRA: 30% was in a global mix of 1,100 high quality bonds, 300 high yield bonds, and 20 TIPS. The remaining 70% was in a global mix of 12,000 US, international and emerging market companies of all sizes, 300 real estate investment trusts, 21 commodities, a long/short fund with hundreds of positions, and a smattering of other investment strategies.

The small brokerage account had just one ingredient: 31 large US stocks.

Over the previous 15 months, the globally diversified portfolio had returned 9% and the 31 US stocks had returned 21%. Of course, the US stocks in her diversified portfolio had also returned 21%, but just like the chunks of beef in a pot pie, they only made up part of the mix, in this case 17%. So, comparing the diversified pot pie of her IRA return to the single-ingredient pot roast of her brokerage account was not valid.

Over the past nine years nothing has done better among major asset classes than US stocks. Any diversified portfolio will have underperformed them. That phenomenon will inevitably end. The time will come, sooner or later, when US stocks will be one of the worst performers of the decade.

***

***

Assessment

Just as a diversified portfolio will often garner smaller returns when US stocks rise, it will also have substantially higher returns when US stocks crash. At that time, those with diversified portfolios will be thankful that they stayed the course. And millions of other investors will be wishing they had ordered pot pie instead of pot roast.

Conclusion

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Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

***

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***

The Role of Asset Classes

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By Charles Schwab

Various Asset Classes and Diversification

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infographic_web-1-updated_3

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Conclusion

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***

Is There an “Efficient Frontier” for Medicare Payment Reform?

An Essay on Financial Health Risk Self-Selection

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™

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[Publisher-in-Chief]

Health economist Austin Frakt PhD, of the Incidental Economist, alerted us to this recent publication “Achieving Cost Control, Care Coordination, and Quality Improvement through Incremental Payment System Reform”, by and from: (Averill, et al., JACM, 2010). The paper describes various Medicare payment reform methods.

The Abstract

The healthcare reform goal of increasing eligibility and coverage cannot be realized without simultaneously achieving control over healthcare costs. The reform of existing payment systems can provide the financial incentive for providers to deliver care in a more coordinated and efficient manner with minimal changes to existing payer and provider infrastructure. Pay for performance, best practice pricing, price discounting, alignment of incentives, the medical home, payment by episodes, and provider performance reports are a set of payment reforms that can result in lower costs, better coordination of care, improved quality of care, and increased consumer involvement. These reforms can produce immediate Medicare annual savings of $10 billion and create the framework for future savings by establishing financial incentives for long-term provider behavior changes that can lead to lower costs.

Patient Risk Sharing

Of course, the third dimension of risk [beyond traditional doctor/hospital provider and Medicare insurer] would be the risk borne by the patient insured (degree of cost-sharing or “consumer responsibility”). This relationship is represented diagrammatically right here:

Brief Review of MPT

Modern portfolio theory (MPT) attempts to maximize investment portfolio expected returns for a given level of risk by carefully choosing the proportions of various asset classes. As a mathematical formulation, the concept of diversification aims to select a collection of assets that collectively lowers risk [measured by standard deviation] more than any individual asset class. This pleasing point is known as the “efficient frontier.” And, it can be seen intuitively because different types of assets often change in value in opposite ways.

Is There an Insurance Efficient Frontier?

Health insurance [medical payment reform] econometric considerations may now be extended in this analogy to suggest that medical providers and CMS payers are the surrogates for two dimensions in the MPT. The third might be the risks borne by the patient insured (degree of cost-sharing or “consumer responsibility”), as above.

Assessment

Then, patients could self-select where they wish to fall on the health insurance “efficient frontier”, balancing all three dimensions as in MPT, along with lifestyle and moral hazard considerations, etc.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Is there an “efficient frontier” for Medicare payment reform?

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Asset Allocation Methods for Physician-Investors

What’s Old … is New Again?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

Publisher-in-Chiefdem23

Asset allocation policies, incorporating the risk/return fundamental equation, have traditionally been classified under the following approaches: Principal Stability and Income, Income, Income-Oriented, Balanced, Growth, and Aggressive Growth.

Traditional Concepts

In all forms of traditional asset allocation and diversification policy approaches, the physician-investor is presumed to diversify within the chosen asset class in order to reduce the potential for specific or unsystematic risk.

Principal stability and income approach

Objective: Income, liquidity, and stability of principal.

Investment: Shorter-term fixed income securities with a large concentration in money market exposure to enhance liquidity and price stability. Accounts tend to maintain cash equivalent reserve balance of 30–50% of the portfolio.

Income approach

Objective: Maximum income.

Investment: 100% fixed income exposure.

Income portfolios arise from the traditional notion that an investor should spend only income and reinvest capital gains. Sometimes this is a legal requirement, as in a trust that has an income beneficiary distinct from the principal beneficiary.

Income-oriented approach

Objective: Income and some capital growth.

Investment: Accounts tend to maintain 15–35% in equity investments; balance of investment in fixed income.

Income and growth approach

Objective: Capital growth and income using a balanced approach to limit volatility.

Investment:  Accounts tend to maintain 45–65% equity exposure; balance of investment in fixed income.

Income and growth portfolio policies generally refer to both the fixed income and equity portions of the portfolios. Because of the income bias, the overall stock portion of the portfolio will usually have a dividend yield greater than the market yield. This method allows the portfolio manager to invest in some no- or low-dividend yielding issues.

Growth approach

Objective: Capital growth with income as a secondary objective.

Investment: Accounts tend to maintain between 65%–85% equity exposure; balance of investment in fixed income, usually cash reserves.

Aggressive growth approach

Objective: Long-term capital growth.

Investment: Accounts maintain 100% equity exposure. Exposure to variety of equity types normal (small capitalization, international, emerging markets, etc).

fp-book15

Assessment Of course, the above is much more accurate during stable economic times, than it is today; don’t you think? Are newer concepts required today … or is past … prologue.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/new-wave-thoughts-on-investing/

Conclusion

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